Italy passes a law that sends unsold food to the needy rather than the dumpster.

Published on 4 August 2021 at 22:59

The Italian government has approved a new set of laws aimed at reducing the huge amount of food that is wasted each year in the country.


The new law passed by 181 Senate members encourages families to take home unfinished food from restaurants and removes obstacles to farmers and grocery stores donating food to charitable organizations.


Italy's upper house put to a vote with the goal of cutting five million tonnes of wasted food by one million tonnes as set out in its law. Only two Senators opposed the measure and one abstained.


According to ministers, food waste in Italy costs the populace and businesses more than €12 billion (£10 billion) annually or 1 percent of GDP.

Furthermore, since the country has a public debt exceeding 135% of GDP - this figure has risen by a fifth since 2003 - and a youth unemployment rate of 40% with millions of people living in poverty, the food waste level is considered unjustified.


Only three months ago, Italy's highest court ruled that stealing small amounts of food from hungry people was not a crime.


According to La Repubblica, the new laws are designed to make food donations easier by letting businesses record food donations monthly in a simple form. Food that has gone past its sell-by date is no longer subject to sanctions, and business owners will pay less waste tax when they donate more.


The law also allows farmers to donate unsold produce to charities at no additional cost.

A €1 million grant from the agricultural ministry will also be used for innovative storage of foods in transit to prevent rotting, and to extend shelf life.


After a successful regional pilot scheme, another €1 million will be devoted to a "doggy bag" initiative that encourages families to bring home unfinished food.


According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 40 percent of food in Europe is wasted. Globally, the figure is one-third.


It has been estimated that 200 million people could be fed by food waste in Europe.

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